The Philippine Network of Food Security Programmes, Inc. (PNFSP) joins millions of peasants, fisherfolks, environmental defenders, human rights advocates and institutions in demanding justice for Joseph Canlas, a staunch food security champion.
Canlas was illegally arrested last March 30, 2021 on trumped up-charges of illegal possession of firearms and explosives and succumbed this morning of May 11 due to COVID-19 complications. Looking at the timeline of events since his illegal arrest, we are one with his family and colleagues in concluding that Canlas contracted the COVID-19 virus from his unjust incarceration at the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) in Camp Tomas Pepito, Angeles City in Pampanga province.
The case of Joseph Canlas is only one among many other cases of land rights defenders facing trumped up charges and fabricated evidences to silence those who criticize projects and businesses that destroy the environment, livelihood and homes of the people, especially our food producers.
Despite continuous red-tagging, he didn’t cower. He continued to serve the hungry and neglected especially during the pandemic that affected the livelihood of many. He personally joined relief distribution efforts of the Central Luzon Disaster Response Network (CLDRN) for the calamity survivors as well as lockdown/quarantine affected communities and sectors.
His dedication as a food and land rights defender can also be seen in his concern and care for the most vulnerable sectors to natural and man-made disasters. He is a working Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Alay Bayan-Luson, Inc. (ABI), a PNFSP member working with communities in Central Luzon. He leads farmers to participate in sustainable agriculture trainings at the Willem Geertman Farm and Training Center in Pampanga and a hands-on worker at ABI’s trial farm.
At the 2018 Anti-Land Grabbing Conference launched by PNFSP, Canlas showed how farmers and fishermen are being driven from their lands due to so-called development projects such as the cris-crossed expressways, Balog-Balog dam project and the New Clark City in Tarlac, Taliptip Airport in Bulacan, reclamation projects in Manila Bay and many more.
His contribution to the defense of the rights of the farmers of Central Luzon as Chairman of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL) and Vice Chairman of the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) is invaluable. His voice is always echoing both inside and outside conferences to assert the stance of the peasants in defense of land, food, livelihood and homes. #